Essay about Film Adaptation of Louisa May Alcott´s Little Women

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Little Women Film Adaptation

Louisa May Alcott’s powerfully written story Little Women has been famous for generations. Alcott wrote was about four young women in the March family who struggled against societal norms during the time of the Civil War. Multiple film adaptations have attempted to retain the emotional impact of her material while retelling her story on the big screen. The most recent adaptation, directed by Gillian Armstrong in 1994, was able to capture many hearts with its feminist twist on the classic novel. Armstrong’s film brings the family’s story to life by successfully displaying the personalities in the March family and by portraying the life styles during the time period accurately. However, specific reactions and descriptions had to be expressed in different ways considering the literary devices used by Alcott which could not be shown through elements of film without alteration.
Alcott’s own childhood experiences are intertwined in certain aspects of her novel. Similar to her main character’s situation, Alcott grew up with three sisters in a family with an unsteady income. She was also an active feminist and participated in events such as the women’s suffrage movement. During the time of Civil War, she worked as a nurse in New York City for the Union soldiers. Armstrong’s knowledge about the background of the author also was adapted into his screenplay. This can recall for a few exaggerated issues in his film that are not directly found in Alcott’s text. For example “One does not recall the Marches’ being quite so taken up with the cause of ‘blacks’, as they anachronistically referred to here, or with women’s suffrage” (TV Guide). Alcott’s personal life provides explanations behind her literature and...

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...any tears and in fact Janet Maslin, a top movie critic, advises “get out your hand-hemmed handkerchiefs, for the loveliest Little Women ever on screen” (Maslin, NY Times).
Alcott’s Little Women was well interpreted considering her story was efficiently maintained and her message was clear. Armstrong’s film is rewarded by being considered one of the most successful adaptation of this classic novel. Armstrong did a fantastic job focusing on the main events in the story while including enough background detail in his screenplay to represent the characters through dialogue and actions and descriptions of the lives of the March girls. Despite the altered reactions of the characters from the text, the same emotional impact was created. Overall, as part of the audience to both Alcott’s novel and Armstrong’s film, I conclude that the two are complementary to each other.

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